Amid terrorism and banditry activities in Nigeria and across its borders, especially in Lake Chad, no retired military general made the 47-man cut of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s entire ministerial nominees, a PRNigeria report has shown.
This is even as President Bola Tinubu has sought the Senate’s support for military intervention against the military junta that toppled a democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum of the neighbouring Niger Republic.
But PRNigeria’s analysis of the 47 Ministers-designate revealed that none of them was once a military officer or even had a career in the Nigerian Armed Forces, at a point in time.
However, President Tinubu, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief, recently decorated the new Service Chiefs with their higher office insignia, signifying the weight of the responsibilities they now bear. The inaugurated service chiefs are Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Christopher Musa; Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-General Taoreed Lagbaja; Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, and Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla.
Tinubu, last week, forwarded to the Senate the names of 28 nominees, among whom are popular Nigerian politicians and seasoned technocrats, for confirmation as Ministers.
They include a foremost diplomat, Amb. Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, Arch. Ahmad Dangiwa, Hajiya Hanatu
Musawa, the All-Progressives Congress, APC, Women Leader, Betta Edu; immediate-past Ebonyi, Rivers, Jigawa and Kaduna States’ Governors, Dave Umahi, Nyesom Wike, Mohamed Badaru Abubakar and Nasir El-Rufai .
Among the rest are: Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Tinubu’s spokesperson, Dele Alake, Chief Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, and the publisher of Blueprint newspapers, Mohammed Idris Malagi.
On Wednesday, another ministerial list, the second batch, with 19 names was sent to the Senate for screening and confirmation.
The likes ex-Osun Governor, Gboyega Oyetola, former Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, that of Kebbi, Zamfara and Yobe States, Sen. Atiku Bagudu, Bello Matawalle and Ibrahim Geidam, among others, made the final cut of Tinubu’s incoming cabinet members.
Though President Tinubu is not the first Nigerian leader to appoint persons with zero military background as Defence Minister, the last time that happened was in 2014.
That was when Mr. Labaran Maku, former Minister of Information in Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, supervised the Ministry of Defence as its Supervising Minister.
In the last eight years, and since 2014 in fact, PRNigeria reports that only retired Army Generals served as Ministers of Defence; still under ex-Presidents Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari.
They include: Gen. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau (rtd) between March 2014 and May 2015; Gen. Mansur Mohammed Dan-Ali (rtd) between November 2015 and May 2019; and Gen. Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd) between August 2019 and May 2023.
The administrations of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of blessed memory and Dr. Jonathan, between 1999 and 2014, had mostly politicians, and then few technocrats on the saddle of the Defence Ministry.
For instance, after Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd) served as Nigeria’s Minister of Defence between 1999 and 2003, he was succeeded by former Kano State Governor, Sen. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who held sway as Minister of Defence between 2003 and 2007.
Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Alh. Yayale Ahmed took over from Kwankwaso, and served as Minister of Defence between 2007 and 2008. Between 2008 and 2009, Nigeria’s Defence Minister was Shettima Mustapha, who was succeeded by Godwin Abbe in 2009. After Abe left in 2010, a former Justice Minister and Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, Adetokunbo Kayode, took over the affairs of the Defence Ministry and left in 2011.
The duo of a former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Haliru Mohammed Bello; and Erelu Olusola Obada, a former Deputy Governor of Osun State, were the last non-military personnel (serving or retired) that served as Ministers of Defence, between July 2011 and September 2013.
Though PRNigeria could not fathom the reason why President Tinubu shunned picking a retired general among his ministerial nominees, with the realization that a Defence Ministry exists, some military analysts opined that the action of Tinubu defies rational thinking since there is already National Security Adviser (NSA), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu with security, a retired general could have been nominated for the cabinet.
They argued that while the. President has the prerogative to appoint any citizen to be part of his cabinet, persons with vast expertise in some particular fields like law, security, education, and health should not be left out in a Nigerian President’s ministerial lists.